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College World Series Notes - June 16, 2002

By DOUG ALDEN
AP Sports Writer

Notre Dame Assistant Part Of Rosenblatt Stadium

OMAHA, Neb. – Notre Dame pitching coach Brian O’Connor will always be a part of the College World Series as long as it’s in Omaha, even if his team isn’t there.

O’Connor, a reliever on Creighton’s 1991 CWS team, is one of the faces on the “Road to Omaha” statue located outside the main gate at Rosenblatt Stadium. The bronze sculpture of four jubilant players is a CWS landmark and an annual site for a team picture.

The sculptor used a picture of O’Connor during his playing days as a model for one of the faces on the statue.

“It’s great because every time you get to come back, you feel like you’re part of the College World Series,” O’Connor said. “It’s just a tidbit of what makes this place so special to me.”

O’Connor grew up just across the Missouri River from Rosenblatt in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He went to college in Omaha and was the closer for Creighton when the Bluejays became the first team from Nebraska to make the CWS.

This is O’Connor’s first trip here as a coach.

“I started coming to the College World Series when I was 5 years old. I have programs from 1975,” he said. “Coming back as a hometown kid and a former player, now being able to coach is really something.”

SCHOOL’S OUT: Nobody was happier about the NCAA decision to push the postseason back a week than Stanford.

The Cardinal players have spent the past three College World Series finishing papers and take-home finals in their hotel rooms because the semester had not ended yet.

Stanford’s graduation was Sunday, so this year it’s no more papers, no more books – just baseball.

“It’s a lot off your shoulders,” senior shortstop Andy Topham said. “It lets us relax a lot because in the past we’d been studying or working on a final and worrying about practicing and playing in a game. Now we have a chance to come out and enjoy this a little bit more.”

RYAN EXPRESS: There is no question U.S. Rep. Lee Terry is a big baseball fan. Just look at his kids.

The Nebraska Republican attended Sunday’s South Carolina-Nebraska game with his two sons, Nolan and Ryan. Terry freely admits the children are named after the Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.

Terry, whose district includes Omaha, and his wife, Robin, also have a 3-year-old son they named Jack.

“I keep saying he’s named after Shoeless Joe Jackson, but Robin’s not buying it,” the Congressman said.

Nolan Terry, 7, doesn’t quite get the history behind his name, but was enjoying his day at the ballgame Sunday.

“They’re fun,” he said. “You can get a lot of candy.”

ONE MORE TIME: Just when Texas coach Augie Garrido thought he was finished with Stanford, he gets at least one more look at the Cardinal.

The Longhorns’ 2-1 victory over Rice on Saturday night set up a winner’s bracket game Monday against Stanford. The Cardinal won 2-of-3 against Texas in a weekend series at the end of March.

Garrido joked that he didn’t want to see the Cardinal again because of their success against the Longhorns.

“If you try to figure it all out, they should win,” he said. “They’re smarter. You ever see their SATs?”

CONFERENCE CURSE: After Big 12 teams lost 13 straight games at the College World Series, Texas put an end to the skid.

The Longhorns’ 2-1 win over Rice on Saturday was the first in the CWS since Oklahoma won the 1994 national title by beating Georgia Tech 4-0.

South Carolina kept Texas’ win from becoming a Big 12 winning streak, however, by eliminating Nebraska 10-8 Sunday.

NO FLORIDA: Thanks to Notre Dame, there is no school from Florida in the College World Series for the first time in nine years.

The Fighting Irish’s super regional win over top-seeded Florida State last Monday finalized the eight-team field, which does not include either Florida, Florida State or Miami for the first time since 1993.

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